Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Red Hot Raider Pepper

Isn't it ironic? Just last week I received my new JRuss 6" figure in the mail (see my previous post). Raider Tom, who customizes Raider figures using other NFL players from the McFarland series, modeled my JRuss figure after a Culpepper Series 2 model.

Fast forward to this week. The Raiders sign Culpepper to a 1 year contract. I like the signing of Culpepper for a few key reasons:

> First and foremost is that it instantly increases the level of competition at the QB position. Head Coach Kiffin has emphasized the need to create an environment where competition is front & center. He made this point the centerpiece of his press conference the day he was hired. His actions over the past few months has backed up this claim. The quality of depth at each position has risen.

> McCown & Walter will need to raise their game. McCown will be fighting to be the week 1 starter. Walter will be competing to just make the final 53 man roster.

> It is essentially a low risk signing that gives Head Coach Kiffin more flexibility and options before the season starts and during the 2007 campaign.

> Culpepper, an 8 year veteran who is a physical carbon copy of JRuss, is the ideal mentor for our newly drafted #1 pick. The question is which Culpepper did we sign? Was it the injury plauged QB who struggled mightily the last 2 seasons, the All Pro caliber QB form of 2000 to 2004, or something in between? The skill set and ability is there. The real question boils down to the level of mobility & health of the current Culpepper.

My take on the QB Depth Chart:

1. Josh McCown: I give McCown a slight edge to be the week 1 starter over Pepper. McCown will hear Pepper's footsteps if he struggles in camp.

1A. Daunte Culpepper: Needs to show he is 100% healthy, shake off some rust, and digest the new playbook quickly. If McCown is the opening day starter but falters in the 1st 5 weeks, Pepper can step in.

3. JaMarucs Russell: Missing 7 days of training camp (so far) due to his contract holdout has stunted his development. 2 things are causing the holdout. JRuss' agent is waiting for Calvin Johnson to sign first to set the floor & the structure of the contract in terms of the guaranteed bonus portion. A few obvious factors will dictate if/when JRuss gets on the field in 2007. It will depend on when he signs. To put the Russell holdout in perspective, refer to Leinart's holdout last year. Leinart held out for 2 weeks and still became the Cardinals starter by week 5. If it is a relatively short hold out (2 weeks or less) there is a reasonable chance for JRuss to start by at least mid season. If it is a protracted holdout there is a good chance that JRuss will be idle most of 2007. Other factors; how steep will the learning curve be? the performance of McCown/Culpepper; the performance of the teams in terms of wins/losses.

> Andrew Walter: With the signing of Pepper, AW will probably be cut, traded, or shelved on IR with a phantom injury. He could become a serviceable back up but his lack of mobility will severely handicap his chances to become a #1 QB under Kiffin's offensive system.

> Jeff Otis: Start clearing your locker. Your next.

> Cody Pickett: Signed 2 days ago. Cut today.

I love the fact that we have 2 capable, veteran QBs (McCown & Culpepper) to be a temporary, 1 year bridge for the Raiders long term future. The long term future success is going to be built on the mind of Kiffin and the broad shoulders of JaMarcus Russell. We drafted Russell to be our franchise QB. His holdout and what happens in 07' doesn't change that fact. By having these 2 signal caller battling it out for the #1 role, there will be no need to rush Russell onto the field prematurely.

11 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The way Al talked, I wouldn't put Andrew on the chopping block just yet. Assuminig JRuss signs, if we do go down to 3QB's, I bet it doesn't happen until we cut down to 53.

I am SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO glad Moss is gone. I couldn't take it if we had Daunte AND Randy. It was bad enough 'cause all you ever heard about was Randy, could you image if we had them both at the same time??

-BamaRaider

6:29 AM  
Anonymous Raider Nate 75 said...

For me the big question with this move, is as you said CJ. This is "if Culpepper can stay healthy."
I'll even take it a step further with "How healthy is he right now?" Because if he's not more than 70%, he's not going to get better as the season (even pre-season) progresses. I take my shots with McCown, who can move around the pocket. Did you see that McCown put a nasty block on Namdi yesterday on a running play? That's going to be key in Kiffin's style. Something I don't think Culpepper and Walter are doing well.
If we want a pure pocket statue passer, then by all means go Culpepper and Walter. If you want a guy who moves around the pocket, then McCown's our guy. If you want a mixture of the 2, then we better get on the ball with signing JRuss, and get him to pressure his agents.

8:53 AM  
Anonymous scorpio said...

from: John Czarnecki of FOXSports.com re: the contract issue of russell.....

Now, the Raiders wouldn't be in this mess had they simply selected USC's Matt Leinart last year instead of Texas safety Michael Huff. At the time, the Raiders thought they could win with Aaron Brooks and owner Al Davis loved Andrew Walter, the young quarterback in waiting. That's Oakland's excuse for not selecting Leinart and how dumb does that look today?

ouch! but true folks.....

my fantasy trade b4 the draft looks pretty good right now. can still happen. al can get out of this mess. trade russell to the cards for the rights to their 5th pick (levi brown) and leinart. we fix the LT prob, reunite kiffin and leinart. if al REALLY wanted leinart as he said he did, he'll be happy too! this 'lil SC reunion just may light a fire under mike williams. little learning curve for all and we're all set! let AZ worry about signing russell!

8:49 PM  
Blogger PantyRaider said...

Scorpio:

I have to disagree on that one....I love having "JRus" and would not trade him for Linert or Cutler...the only recent "QB" worth such a deal is VinceYoung....

When I watched Lainert last year he did not show me anything....about what I expect from Quinn this year...The only other recent QB who shows me something is in "SD"....but I think the "Up-Side" on "JRus" is much grater than any of them....but time will tell....

This kid is still learning the game and still developing as a player physically....he could become much more than he is within another year or two...after all he was just a junior....with the coaching he is going to get now the sky is the limit....

I saw an artical about how USC turns out such great "QB"s and "Kiff" was a very big part of that....What would "JRus" have been if he played for USC....I doubt we would have seen Booty....

PantyRaider....Loven"JRus"-n-Culpepper!!!!

9:19 PM  
Anonymous scorpio said...

panty, i disagree with your comment about leinart. he DID show flashes. coming out of college, he is a leader, a winner and has a very important national award in his closet AND he WANTED to play for the raiders. he would have been perfect for kiffin's west coast offense. it's all about timing though. if only art shell 2 didn't happen.....

anyway, i like the combo of culpepper and russell also. after all, how much "experience and wisdom" could walter or mccown pass down to russell? with all the happenings of last year, i was screamin' for walter to get his fair shake. he ain't gonna get that fair shake. we can expect he or mccown to get cut or traded towards the end of camp. i hope we get something for walter rather than nothing for wasting yet another high pick on a QB.

your boy will sign soon if the 2 sides can get it together.

10:55 PM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...

The JRuss holdout is a minor bump in the road. 2007 is a transitional year for the Raiders anyway. As long as JRuss gets signed and gets his feet wet this year, everything should be on track for long term success.

With last year's misery, this year is the beginning of a new era...a fresh start with a competent coaching staff.

Kiffin has to clear out the dead wood, add his type of players, install a new system, develop the young talent, and evaluate the players.

It will take some trial by fire, time, and an infusion of new talent in 2008 to truly turn the corner. I look at the 2007 year as a bridge year for both Kiffin & JRuss. 2008 should be the year when expectations are ratched up another notch.

Let's not forget, Gruden inherited a 4 & 12 team and went 8 & 8 year 1, 8 & 8 year 2, and it wasn't until year 3 that we reached the playoffs.

Onward & Upwards, Raider Nation!

4:04 PM  
Blogger PantyRaider said...

CalicoJack:

I like the moves "Kiff" is making alot better than what "CrudDunb" did his first 2 years....

"CrudDumb" spiked JeffGeorge and tried to change Kauffman into a power runner....at 180 lbs....he brought in RickMirre as "QB"....and the only thing that saved his ass the first 2 years was WillyShaws "D" because the "O" sucked big time until Gannon saved it in year 3....Without Gannon "CrudDumb" would have had the same results with the Raiders as he has had with the "Bucks"...."BottomFeeders"....He won his first year with a team built by Dungy....

"Kiff" is making intelegent moves and we already look like winners before the season starts....Just look at the changes in the Raider BackField...."RB"..."FB"..."WR"..."TE"...."QB"....all upgrades....and we now have 3+ upgrades on the "OL"...plus the "D" has not been neglected....and I don't think he is done yet....

Looks like an exciting season and I won't be surprised if we do a "NewOrleans" type "TurnAround" this year....or at least a winning season...

PantyRaider.....NewTeam!!!!

12:22 PM  
Blogger Raider Raza said...

It bothers me that we have offered Russell upwards of 31 Million and he wants more.

If it was up to me I would trade Russell or release his rights. I would rather give that 30 Million+++ to players like Nnamdi and Burgess who have earned it.

He is an overweight junior with a cannon arm that has never played a down in the NFL. There is a greater chance he becomes a bust than he leads us to a Superbowl or has a HOF career.

11:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

PANIC.

9:21 AM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...

Panic? There is no need to panic whatsoever. Whether Russell signs tomorrow, next week, next month, or never, the Raiders are moving in the right direction. Kiffin has done an excellent job upgrading the talent & depth on the roster. He has done a remarkable job in short period of time of changing the mind set of the team >>> competition, accountability, and the sense that everything a player does counts. Further, we know have a modern offense with a better scheme, more creative playcalling, and better use of our personnel.

Onward & Upwards! Panic is for weak minded pessimists. Raiders 2007 is minty fresh in my books.

6:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Calico, looks like your Dolphin retread might be the one to get us through till JaM Russ signs. I'm not sure this is a good strategy, but you've got to play with the players they give you. Let's get past the preseason and on to the real deal!!

8:37 PM  

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